See More. Treat More. 3D Imaging: Oral Surgeons


Before a single incision is made, many oral surgeons rely on a cone beam 3D imaging system to provide them with detail about the case. With a single rotation, 150-200 images are taken and then put together into a three-dimensional rendering with sophisticated, predictive software.

3D imaging used in Oral Surgery practiceCBCT imaging is used most widely in oral surgery. It contributes valuable information applicable to many procedures done in the office. With the insight it provides, oral surgeons can evaluate and pre-plan extractions, particularly of third molars; confirm measurements and proximity to other anatomical structures located close to the surgical site; and determine the quality and quantity of bone available for implant surgery. In addition, 3D imaging allows oral surgeons to discover other pathology such as infections, tumors or cysts, and osteonecrosis. Implant dentistry and impacted tooth extraction are the two main uses for CBCT images.

Cone Beam Helps Evaluate Site Before Surgery

Regardless of the procedure, the reason so many doctors rely on cone beam imaging is that it alerts them to potential concerns before they make an incision. They can identify areas of risk and prepare for them as well as share that information with patients. The result is a patient who is engaged with their care and a doctor who is certain of what he or she will find when the procedure begins. This leads to faster and more successful outcomes, which is particularly important when a patient is under anesthesia.

  • Impacted teeth: Valuable for surgeries that involve third molars and supernumerary teeth, the cone beam, in a single pass, maps out important anatomical structures that are close to the impacted teeth, such as nerves and sinus cavities. 3D imaging does a better job than traditional X-rays in identifying root resorption in impacted canines and provides details on relationships with adjacent teeth so adjustments can be made to the surgical plan if needed.
  • Implant planning and placement: A growing number of doctors who place implants say they would not do them without using a cone beam.

Hygienist of an Oral Surgeon takes a 3D scan of a patient.“In implant surgery there are a lot of issues and factors that you don’t know about until you flap tissue,” explained Dr. Daniel Butterman of Butterman Dental in Centennial, Colorado. “It’s not predictable. Now I bring the image up and the patient gets to diagnose with me.”

He notes that many times, patients come to him for a second opinion after an implant was recommended. Previously they only saw a 2D image, so they are confused and scared about treatment, particularly if the conversation involves bone grafting. He has found case acceptance increases when patients can see the 3D image.

“If they need it, they know it,” said Dr. Butterman.

Doctors also gain valuable information about the quality and quantity of the bone and what size and length the implants should be. In complex cases with multiple implants, the 3D image is so precise, doctors can use it to fabricate surgical guides. The use of cone beam imaging further advances their dentistry and confidence in taking on complicated, multi-implant patients.

The cone beam can also advise doctors and patients whether an implant should even be done. This knowledge can save a patient the time, expense, and frustration of a failed restoration.

  • Discovering pathology: Just as valuable is the technology’s ability to see pathology not otherwise seen in exams or 2D X-rays. It’s not uncommon for an oral surgeon to recount cases where the cone beam identified tumors that turned out to be malignant.

“There is no greater ROI than that,” concluded Dr. Butterman.

Contact a Henry Schein Representative to learn more about 3D solutions for Oral Surgeons.

This article is part of Henry Schein Dental's "See More. Treat More." 3D Imaging series. Continue learning: